Summer 1996 • Vol. XVIII No. 3/4 Nonfiction |

Two Accidents: Reflections on Chance and Creativity

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its messages much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup. —Milan Kundera (48) I. The Lucky Find Outside my study door a bird has built its nest with the usual twigs and moss but also, in this case, with two strips of paper torn from the sides of my computer printout. The bird did not set out in search of those white strands, of course, but when it happened to find them it knew how to weave a habitable home. "I do not seek, I find": this is Picasso's famous dictum, underlining the wandering portion of his artistic practice. In both cases, an intelligence makes itself at home in the happening world, one not so attached to design or purpose as to blinker out the daily wealth of accidents. "Chance itself pours in at every avenue of sense: it is of all things m

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Lewis Hyde's books include Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership (FSG, 2010), The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (Random House 1983; reprinted 2007), Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art (FSG, 1998), and the book of poems This Error is the Sign of Love (Milkweed Editions, 1988). He has edited a volume of essays on Henry David Thoreau and a book of responses to the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, and has translated the selected poems of Vicente Aleixandre. Hyde's many awards include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lannan Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1991 he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. He is currently the Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College. In addition to Pablo Neruda, Hyde has translated Spain's 1976 Nobel laureate, Vicente Aleixandre.

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Liberty to Communicate

By Lewis Hyde

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to […]

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